U.K. box office: Brits say yes to ‘Yes Man’

Just a note for newcomers to the site: there’s a reason why you’re not seeing last weekend’s box office numbers for the U.K. here until the day the new weekend is starting. The actual numbers for the overall British box office (which, as an aside, also includes the Republic of Ireland) are far less readily available then the North American numbers. I’ve found only one source for them that goes beyond the top ten films and — more importantly — is reported in pounds, not dollars. That source is the UK Film Council, and they don’t release those numbers until late Wednesday, New York time, which is usually into Thursday, U.K. time. There simply isn’t the kind of urgency to get those numbers out like we see in the U.S.

(On a related note, my decision to wait till late Monday to report on the North American box office was a response to the ridiculousness of the urgency with which those numbers get reported in the American entertainment press. On Sunday everyone leaps on the weekend estimates, but those numbers often get revised — almost always downward — when the actual numbers come in on Monday. I’m not interested in racing to be first to get those numbers out — I couldn’t be first even if I wanted to, since I’m relying on the reporting of others anyway. I’m more interested in the real numbers over the imaginary ones.)

Anyway, onto the New Year’s weekend box-office rundown for the U.K.:
1. Yes Man: £2.2 million (2nd week; drops 5%)
2. Bedtime Stories: £1.9 million (2nd week; up 20%)
3. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: £1.7 million (5th week; up 40%)
4. Australia: £1.5 million (2nd week; up 17%)
5. Twilight: £1.4 million (3rd week; up 19%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)

I normally stop reporting how many weeks a film has been open and what percentage change in takings it saw after the first month, when most of the money a top-five movie will make will have been made. But I had to note that in its fifth weekend, Madagascar 2 was up 40 percent over Christmas weekend. In fact, four of the top five were up substantially, and Yes Man’s drop was almost negligible. Nothing like that happened in the U.S. over New Year’s weekend, where the top five enjoyed smaller than typical drops… but they were still drops.

Outside the top five, other films were up strongly too: Inkheart was up 13 percent, and The Tale of Despereaux was up 28 percent. It’s kinda notable, too, that over a weekend during which almost every movie that’s been playing for less than two months was up dramatically, poor The Day the Earth Stood Still took a drop of 17 percent. Ouch.

Four Christmases looks to have finally played itself out in the U.K, though it hung on powerfully for a month and a half. It was down 65 percent this past weekend, but it has now passed £10 million, which is just about proportional to the $118 million it’s earned in North America.

Ooo, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, which just opened this weekend in the U.K. at 102 cinemas, took in a paltry £41,305, for a pathetic per-screen average of £405. (It opened to a more respectable $10 million in North America.) Looks like those pants don’t travel too far.

Following the trend I’ve been seeing, it was the No. 1 film, Yes Man, that had the best per-screen of the weekend: £5,124 at each of 434 cinemas.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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